In diabetes, Medtronic’s efforts in machine learning and artificial intelligence has been well documented with its joint launch with IBM of the virtual diabetes assistant Sugar.IQ. The company’s MiniMed 670g hybrid closed-loop insulin pump also comes loaded with the Guardian 3 sensor, which uses artificial intelligence to help diabetes patients beat high and low blood glucose-related events.
Now, the Dublin-based medical device giant is aiming to leverage AI in another business: stroke care. Last week, Medtronic announced that it has entered into a global distribution agreement with Viz.ai, whose artificial intelligence-powered imaging software is aimed at quickly treating patients suspected of having ischemic strokes. Viz.ai, based in San Francisco, received FDA’s de novo clearance for its clinical decision support software for stroke back in February 2018. The company is pursuing regulatory go-aheads in other countries.
In an interview this week, Stacey Pugh, vice president of Medtronic Neurovascular, explained that Viz.ai’s software can mean all the difference between a good and a bad medical outcome for a stroke patient with a large-vessel occlusion (LVO). Here’s what the software platform connected to CT scanners is capable of doing: the AI can quickly determine based on a CT scan of the patient’s brain, whether the patient has suffered a large-vessel occlusion, flag where it believes that occlusion has occurred and notify doctors.
“When you look at a scan of perfusion in the brain, there will be a certain amount of areas of perfusion you should expect to see, and this software through AI shows a segment of perfusion is missing, and that’s because the software has flagged it,” Pugh said in a phone interview. “It does this automatically before the scan can be read by a PACS [Picture Archiving and Communication System] and a radiologist looks at it.”
This saves valuable time in a health event where time is of the essence. Per Medtronic’s announcement, a Viz.ai study in “two centers showed that in 95.5 percent of true positive cases, its technology alerted the stroke specialist earlier than the standard of care, saving an average of 52 minutes.”
“We know from all of the research that’s been done that even by moving care up by half an hour in a large-vessel occlusion, you can meaningfully impact outcomes,” Pugh said. “So gaining minutes is a very meaningful outcome.”
Consider the standard protocols today per Pugh where the patient arrives at a hospital that may not be a comprehensive stroke center and the doctor orders CT scans of the brain. Then, the radiologist reads the scan and sends the information to the physician who ordered the scan. Thereafter, the physician reviews the scan and radiological reports and sends the information to the receiving physician at the comprehensive stroke center. This process can take some time and meanwhile the patient is “losing about 1.9 million neurons per minute that you have an LVO in the brain,” Pugh said.
Viz.ai’s system cuts down these steps improving the chances for a better outcome, she said. But there is another advantage. This software is especially valuable at hospitals that may lack stroke expertise.
“These stroke cases get messed up a lot of times at these smaller hospitals,” Pugh said. “You don’t have physicians who are looking at these kinds of scans all the time and so it’s not just about speed, it’s about detecting cases which otherwise wouldn’t be detected.”
The Viz.ai app is able to alert physicians and display images of suspected large-vessel occlusions.
Perhaps equally importantly, the software platform can be preprogrammed to alert doctors about the potential LVO at both the smaller, local hospital where the patient first arrives and the comprehensive stroke care center where the patient will be ultimately treated.
So you have speed and accuracy built into the system and the ability to get everyone on the stroke care team on the same page simultaneously, Pugh said.
Th other capability of the Viz.ai system is communication. The HIPAA compliant, cloud-based application allows doctors on the Viz.ai system to not only view the brain perfusion images of the patient suspected of having a large-vessel occlusion on their smartphones but also to communicate with each other through the app thereby streamlining care.
Even comprehensive stroke centers can benefit from the Viz.ai system because of its ability to flag potential trouble areas, Pugh said.
While the terms of Medtronic’s global distribution agreement with Viz.ai was not disclosed, Pugh said that the software can be sold both as standalone and as part of a bundle with Medtronic’s stroke hardware products. They include the Solitaire stent retriever, guidewires and other products that allow surgeons to remove the clot in the brain.
Viz.ai was founded in 2016, according to Crunchbase by Dr. Chris Mansi, David Golan and Manoj Ramchandran. Mansi is a neurosurgeon and the CEO of the company. The company raised $21 million in a Series A funding round in July 2018 that Kleiner Perkins led and in which GV (formerly Google Ventures) participated.
At the time, a Kleiner investor who joined Viz.ai’s board commented:
“We were attracted not only to the technology behind Viz.ai and its impact on patient outcomes, but also its adoption model. Many new health-tech solutions struggle to gain traction because they are an outside-in sale to medical teams, requiring changes to procedures and workflows. In contrast, physicians and their teams are driving adoption of the Viz.ai platform because it is not disruptive to emergency room procedures and fits naturally into existing systems,” said Mamoon Hamid, General Partner, Kleiner Perkins.
In other words, disruptive technologies can be more easily adopted as long as they do not cause disruption in the general, English sense of the term.
The partnership with Medtronic is further proof that the largest pure-play medical device company believes that more in the stroke market are likely to buy into Viz.ai’s product and vision.TrendMD v2.4.3
A blood test to detect early brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease has moved one step closer to clinical use, researchers report.
Up to two decades before people develop the characteristic memory loss and confusion of Alzheimer’s disease, damaging clumps of protein start to build up in their brains.
Researchers say they can measure levels of the Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta in the blood and use such levels to predict whether the protein has accumulated in the brain.
The blood test may even be more sensitive than the gold standard—a PET brain scan.
When blood amyloid levels are combined with two other major Alzheimer’s risk factors—age and the presence of the genetic variant APOE4—the test can identify people with early Alzheimer’s brain changes with 94% accuracy, the study shows.
The findings, which appear in the journal Neurology, represent another step toward a blood test to identify people on track to develop Alzheimer’s before symptoms arise. Surprisingly, the test may be even more sensitive than the gold standard—a PET brain scan—at detecting the beginnings of amyloid deposition in the brain.
Such a test may become available at doctors’ offices within a few years, but its benefits will be much greater once there are treatments to halt the disease process and forestall dementia.
The difficulty of identifying participants who have Alzheimer’s brain changes but no cognitive problems has hampered clinical trials of preventive drug candidates.
The new blood test could provide a way to efficiently screen for people with early signs of disease so they can participate in clinical trials evaluating whether drugs can prevent Alzheimer’s dementia.
“Right now we screen people for clinical trials with brain scans, which is time-consuming and expensive, and enrolling participants takes years,” says senior author Randall J. Bateman, professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis.
“But with a blood test, we could potentially screen thousands of people a month. That means we can more efficiently enroll participants in clinical trials, which will help us find treatments faster, and could have an enormous impact on the cost of the disease as well as the human suffering that goes with it.
Before it’s too late
The test, an earlier version of which first was reported two years ago, uses a technique called mass spectrometry to precisely measure the amounts of two forms of amyloid beta in the blood: amyloid beta 42 and amyloid beta 40. The ratio of the two forms goes down as the number of amyloid beta deposits in the brain goes up.
The current study involved 158 adults over age 50. All but 10 of the participants in the new study were cognitively normal, and each provided at least one blood sample and underwent one PET brain scan.
The researchers classified each blood sample and PET scan as amyloid positive or negative, and found that the blood test from each participant agreed with his or her PET scan 88 percent of the time—promising but not accurate enough for a clinical diagnostic test.
By the time people become forgetful, their brains are so severely damaged no therapy is likely to fully heal them.
In an effort to improve the test’s accuracy, the researchers incorporated several major risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Age is the largest known risk factor; after age 65, the chance of developing the disease doubles every five years. A genetic variant called APOE4 raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s three- to fivefold. And gender also plays a role: Two out of three Alzheimer’s patients are women.
When the researchers included these risk factors in the analysis, they found that age and APOE4 status raised the accuracy of the blood test to 94%. Sex did not significantly affect the analysis.
“Sex did affect the amyloid beta ratio, but not enough to change whether people were classified as amyloid positive or amyloid negative, so including it didn’t improve the accuracy of the analysis,” says first author Suzanne Schindler, an assistant professor of neurology.
Further, scientists initially considered the results of some people’s blood tests false positives because the blood test was positive for amyloid beta but the brain scan came back negative. But some people with mismatched results tested positive on subsequent brain scans taken an average of four years later.
The finding suggests that, far from being wrong, the initial blood tests had flagged early signs of disease the gold-standard brain scan missed.
Slow and expensive
There is growing consensus among neurologists that Alzheimer’s treatment needs to begin as early as possible, ideally before any cognitive symptoms arise. By the time people become forgetful, their brains are so severely damaged no therapy is likely to fully heal them.
But testing preventive treatments requires screening thousands of healthy people to find a study population of people with amyloid build-up and no cognitive problems, a slow and expensive process.
As part of the study, the researchers analyzed the enrollment process for a prominent Alzheimer’s prevention trial called the A4 study that used PET scans to confirm the presence of early Alzheimer’s brain changes in potential participants. They concluded that prescreening with a blood test followed by a PET scan for confirmation would have reduced the number of PET scans needed by two thirds.
Unlike blood tests, which cost a few hundred dollars, each PET scan costs upward of $4,000. A single site can only run a few dozen PET brain scans a month, because PET scanners are primarily reserved for patient care, not research studies.
“If you want to screen an asymptomatic population for a prevention trial, you would have to screen, say, 10,000 people just to get 1,500 or 2,000 that would qualify,” Bateman says.
“Reducing the number of PET scans could enable us to conduct twice as many clinical trials for the same amount of time and money. It’s not the $4,000 per PET scan that we’re worried about. It’s the millions of patients that are suffering while we don’t have a treatment. If we can run these trials faster, that will get us closer to ending this disease.”
The National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Willman Scholar Fund, Eli Lilly Co./Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, and an anonymous foundation funded the work.
A venture capital firm formed by a founder of one of the first companies to win Food and Drug Administration approval for a cell therapy for cancer closed a new fund worth more than half of $1 billion.
Boston-based Vida Ventures said Thursday that it had closed its Vida Ventures II, or Vida II fund, raising $600 million. The close brings the total amount the firm has raised to about $1 billion since the firm’s founding in late 2017 by Arie Belldegrun, founder of Kite Pharma. Kite won FDA approval for Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in October 2017. In August of that year, Gilead Sciences announced it would acquire Kite for $11.9 billion.
A Form D filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 15 states that the firm had sought to raise $600 million. Another Form D, filed Dec. 6, 2017, states that Vida had raised $254.8 million.
“Vida maintains a unique advantage by combining a best-in-class investment team with firsthand business and scientific expertise that directly applies to our portfolio investments,” Belldegrun said in a statement. “With the added expertise from our newest team members, we are positioned better than ever before to add value by identifying and investing in meaningful science that ultimately has the potential to help patients in need.”
In its most recent publicly announced investment, Vida co-led a $105 million Series A funding round for Kronos Bio, along with Omega Funds. The San Mateo, California-headquartered company is developing small-molecule drugs to target historically undruggable targets.
Last year, Belldegrun and fellow Kite alumnus David Chang founded Allogene, a South San Francisco, California-based company developing “off-the-shelf” allogeneic CAR-T therapies, which use T cells from donors rather than requiring the harvesting of patients’ own T cells. The company raised a $120 million private financing in September of last year before filing to go public the same month.TrendMD v2.4.3
The company hopes its new Destination: Health offering – can successfully connect high-need members to social services. CVS is working in concert with Unite Us, a New York startup that builds networks of local social service providers and provides software to connect individuals with those organizations, track outcomes and collaborate on care.
“Both Aetna and CVS Health have a long track record in supporting local community-based providers from a corporate social responsibility and foundation-giving perspective, but the question is how do we embed it as a core part of the business?” said Leila Nowroozi, a leader in CVS Health/Aetna business strategy division.
If this news sounds familiar, that’s probably because Unite Us was the partner recently chosen by Kaiser Permanente to build out its Thrive Local network, a system with the same broad strokes mission to integrate non-clinical services like transportation and housing support into its larger offerings.
Kaiser’s network is meant to scale across the organization’s 12 million members over the next three years if all goes according to plan.
CVS Health hasn’t set as strong of a public timetable for the expansion of its own network and put its own near-term goals as seeing results from the network through metrics like member satisfaction, the usage rates of linked services and the impact on community-based organizations
Eventually the ambition is to have a measurable impact on Aetna’s claims through a reduction in downstream healthcare spending. A key part of moving towards this ultimate goal is developing an infrastructure where outcomes can be reliably measured
“There’s a void in that type of feedback loop, many of these community partners are under resourced entities who are focused on trying to improve people’s lives and not on reporting data,” Nowroozi said. “These collaborations through Unite Us helps with the whole industry migration towards better data and evidence-gathering.”
The Destination: Health network will launch later this year with Aetna Medicaid members in Louisville, Kentucky and Aetna dual-eligible special needs plan members in Tampa, Florida and Southeastern Louisiana.
As for what services the company hopes to prioritize? That depends on the market, according to Garth Graham, CVS Health’s vice president of community health and impact.
“It’s really what’s defined locally as necessary. That’s why the partnership with Unite Us is key since they are the ones building these local networks,” Graham said. “All health is local, so each community has its own set of challenges.”
As part of its collaboration with Unite Us, Kaiser became a strategic investor of the company, which Graham said that was one option being explored by CVS.
Medicaid looks to be an initial major focus for the company as it looks to grow out its network. Aetna currently offers Managed Medicaid plans to more than 2 million beneficiaries across 16 states.
While Unite Us will eventually make it possible individual members able to identify and select social care providers, CVS Health officials say that selected Aetna members will initially be linked to local providers through nurse case managers and community liaisons.
The large retail footprint of CVS pharmacies are certain to play a role in the build out of the Destination: Healthcare network, but executives are short on details on what exactly that could look like.
One possibility – especially as the company continues to grow its HealthHUB model – is that stores could become distribution points where members could meet with local case managers, access supportive housing services and get warm hand-offs and introductions to local community resources.
The company’s effort to address social determinants are also being expanded among its commercially insured population through the rollout of new analytics tool to help plan sponsors identify where there are specific socially-related vulnerabilities among their patient population.
This data could shape the development of new plan design. For example, Aetna plans that emphasize primary care and chronic care management provided through CVS clinic locations.
CVS Health’s initiative is meant to build on a previous pledge made earlier this year soon after the closure of its Aetna acquisition to direct $100 million over five years toward areas including free health and wellness screenings, donations to nonprofits working in areas like substance abuse recovery and financial and volunteer support for local community organizations.
Housing has also been a major philanthropic priority for the company, which is slated to invest more than $50 million in 2019 toward the construction or rehabilitation of more than 1,600 affordable housing units across six states.TrendMD v2.4.3
Madison, Wisconsin-based diagnostics company Exact Sciences has agreed to purchase Genomic Health in a $2.8 billion cash-and-stock deal to create a powerhouse in the oncology diagnostics industry.
Exact Sciences, known for their Cologuard colorectal cancer screening test, has continued to branch out into different cancer indications through internal pipeline development and now through M&A.
Colorguard is an at-home stool-based DNA test that was developed in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic and initially launched in 2014. In the five years since, the diagnostic has been used on more than 2.6 million people and has helped uncover 12,000 cases of early-stage cancer and 84,000 pre-cancerous polyps.
Exact’s combination with Redwood City, California-based Genomic Health adds the company’s Oncotype DX Breast flagship genomic test for early-stage breast cancer to its product portfolio.
Oncotype DX Breast is a genomics-based diagnostic that is used to help clinicians understand the risk of cancer recurrence and the effectiveness of certain therapies on their disease. Outside of the company’s primary breast cancer product, Genomic Health also has diagnostics targeting prostate and colon cancer in its portfolio.
The companies tout the deal as expanding Exact’s commercial footprint to 90 countries and creating a leader in the cancer diagnostic space with projected 2020 revenues of $1.6 billion.
Alongside the news of the merger, both Exact Sciences and Genomic Health announced their second quarter financial results.
In the second quarter, Exact Sciences earned revenues of $2oo million, equivalent to roughly 94 percent growth year-over-year. Genomic Health’s revenue in Q2 2019 was $114.1 million, an increase of 19.4 percent from 2018.
“When we think about the complementary strengths of our organization, doing it with a record quarter coming from Genomic Health and the optimism we have going forward this is the right time for a deal,” Genomic Health CEO Kim Popovits said on an investor call. “We really believe we have a one plus one equals three scenario.”
Exact Sciences executives say that bringing in Genomic Health’s expertise and financial resources will allow the company to invest in products to identify and test for property biomarkers in other common cancer types.
“Long term bringing together Exact Sciences and Genomic Health will create an organization with a breadth of capabilities that doesn’t exist today,” Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy said on the call, estimating a $200 million R&D budget for the combined company.
“At its core this combination is about bringing together two complementary capabilities to create a leading cancer diagnostics company with unique abilities to impact more people’s lives.”
One specific program that executives said would benefit from the Genomic Health combination is Exact’s early-stage screening for hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer. Conroy said Genomic Health’s existing commercial infrastructure for international sales gives the company a ready-made avenue to expand sales outside of the U.S.
Another recent area of development for Exact Sciences has been the development of liquid biopsy products, particularly for the early-stage screening of lung cancers to avoid unnecessary biopsy. Adding Genomic Health’s laboratory presence in California bolsters the company’s the reimbursement strategy for the emerging technology.
Genomic Health has also been working on its own liquid biopsy-based products and said merger could accelerate that development, particularly with the company’s predictive test for late-stage breast cancer recurrence.
Exact Sciences purchase price represents around a 19 percent premium on Genomic Health’s weighted average stock price over the last month.
The deal is expected to be closed by the end of the year pending regulatory and shareholder approval of the deal. The board of directors of the companies have both unanimously approved the deal.
Cellular soldiers created using the body’s own defenses can track down and kill cancer cells that escape during surgeries, researchers report.
This could prevent metastasis and save lives, particularly in cases of triple-negative breast cancer.
Researchers attached two proteins to the surface of lipid nanoparticles: TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand—or TRAIL—and the adhesion receptor E-selectin. The injected nanoparticles then adhere to white blood cells, and the introduction of these TRAIL-coated leukocytes into the bloodstream before, during, and after tumor removal kills all cancer cells loosed as a result.
“Collisions between the TRAIL-coated leukocytes and cancer cells in the bloodstream are happening constantly,” says Michael King, a professor of engineering and chair of the biomedical engineering department at Vanderbilt University.
“We’ve tested this both in the bloodstream and in hundreds of blood samples from cancer patients being treated in clinics across the country. In all cases, within two hours, the viable cancer cells are cleared out. This has worked with breast, prostate, ovarian, colorectal, and lung cancer cells.”
Not only can the method work during surgeries, King says, but also potentially with patients who already suffer metastatic cancer in multiple sites and who have no worthwhile treatment options. Because all the components of the TRAIL-coated leukocytes occur naturally in the body, it increases the potential for a quicker path from the bloodstreams of mouse models to human trials.
Surgical intervention in breast cancer is a known cause of metastatic growth and accelerated tumor relapse, either because of cancer cells shed during the process, inflammation at the wound site, or a combination of the two factors. Chemotherapy is the most widely used treatment for the resulting metastasis, but still, the five-year survival rate for triple negative breast cancer sits well below 30%.
The group’s past experiments with TRAIL-coated leukocytes were effective in blocking metastasis, but required multiple repeated injections to sustain their beneficial effect. King says this new breakthrough overcomes those issues by designing three simple doses to coincide with the surgical procedure.
The paper appears in Science Advances. Support for the work came from the National Institute of Health and the NCI/NIH Cancer Center.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have used a cryo-electron microscopy technique to observe the interactions between a drug molecule and its protein receptor. The approach provides valuable information which could offer clues as to how to modify drug molecules to improve their effectiveness.
The way that drug molecules bind to their target receptors in the body can have significant consequences in terms of their efficacy. Enhancing drug binding could lead to better therapeutic effects for a wider range of patients. To achieve this, researchers need to understand the role of various components of the drug molecule in the interaction with the receptor binding pocket. However, observing and modeling the interactions between drug molecules and their target receptors is challenging.
This new technique is called single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, and it involves cooling a sample down to very low temperatures and then imaging it using a new type of electron microscope. The technique allows researchers to image drug/receptor interactions at less than a billionth of one meter.
past, we didn’t have the confidence to model the drug in its binding pocket,” said Sandip Basak, a researcher involved in the study. “Now we can precisely do that. We can also watch the drug move in the pocket using molecular dynamics simulations.”
The research team used single-particle cryo-electron microscopy to investigate the interaction of setrons, a class of drugs used to manage vomiting and nausea, with their target serotonin receptors in the gastrointestinal tract. Setrons don’t work for everyone, meaning that there is room for improvement. “Cancer patients who have vomiting later in their treatment plans—delayed emesis—don’t tend to respond to setrons,” said Sudha Chakrapani, another researcher involved in the study. “There is a constant need for better drugs.”
Using cryo-electron microscopy, the research team could watch the motions of setrons as they bind to serotonin receptors. The observations revealed components of the drug and receptor that are important for binding, which the team validated by tweaking
these components to change the binding activity. In the future, the technique could lead to more effective drugs by providing researchers with a wealth of information on drug/target interactions.
Following on a strong performance in 2018, global venture capital funding for digital health companies hit $5.1 billion in the first half of this year, the highest it has ever been, a new report says.
According to a new report by global communications and research firm, Mercom Capital Group, VC funding for the first half of 2019 was $5.1 billion compared to $4.9 billion in 2018. However, there were fewer deals in the first half of 2019: 318 compared to 383 in the previous year.
The report focuses on funding and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity for the digital health (Healthcare Information Technology) sector for the second quarter and first half of 2019. The second quarter recorded a strong performance showing $3.1 billion in 169 deals. In the first quarter, $2 billion was raised in 149 deals.
Weak M&A activity not a cause for concern
“Funding activity was robust in digital health in the first half of 2019, while M&A activity was weak. Weak M&A activity has not affected investment activity over past years. We are in an ‘invest first and ask questions later’ environment where investors are more worried about missing out in this hot space,” Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group, said.
Prabhu added that after a long break, several digital health companies were entering the initial public offering (IPO) market in the United States. “Successful IPOs could open the floodgates, whereas if IPOs fizzle out, it could shut the IPO exit path for many digital health companies.”
Breaking down the deals
The report said the top digital health VC deals in the first of 2019 were $250 million raised by Tencent Trusted Doctors, followed by $205 million raised by Collective Health, $200 million raised by Tempus, $170 million raised by Doctolib, and $100 million raised by Health Catalyst.
The report further breaks down funding stats, revealing that 821 investors participated in digital health funding deals in the first half of 2019. Also, 450 investors participated in funding deals in the second quarter of this year compared to 371 investors in the first quarter.
The major corporate investors in the first half of the year included Amazon’s Alexa Fund, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Goldman Sachs, Merck, Wells Fargo, MassMutual Ventures, UnitedHealthcare’s Optum Ventures, Piper Jaffray, BlueCross BlueShield, Honda, Oracle, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, and Cisco Investment among others.
Twenty-six different countries recorded digital health VC funding deals in the first half of the year. Of these, 21 recorded digital health VC funding deals in the second quarter.
In addition, the report says in the first half of this year, there were 91 digital health M&A transactions (16 disclosed) down from 116 transactions (26 disclosed) in 1H 2018.
“Notable M&A transactions in 1H 2019 were: Dassault Systemes acquired Medidata for $5.8 billion, Golden Gate Capital acquired a 51 percent stake in Ensemble Health Partners for $1.2 billion, Nordic Capital acquired a majority stake in ArisGlobal for $700 million, JPMorgan Chase acquired InstaMed for more than $500 million, Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL) acquired Nextech Systems for $500 million, and Hill-Rom Holdings acquired Voalte for $195 million,” a release accompanying the report said.
The top VC funded digital health categories in the second quarter of 2019 were telemedicine with $676 million, followed by analytics with $551 million and wellness with $304 million. There were 73 early stage deals in Q2 2019, compared to 48 in Q1 2019.
Wearable sensors also had a strong performance, raising $285 million in funding, while mobile wireless raised $264 million, and healthcare benefits brought in $208 million.
The report adds that since 2010, digital health companies have now raised over $40 billion in VC funding deals since 2010. U.S. digital health companies have raised approximately $30 billion to date.
Funding for digital health has had a strong performance in recent times. In its annual report for 2018, Mercom Capital Group said investments in the sector hit $9.5 billion, a rise of 32 percent compared to 2017, where there were deals worth $7.2 billion.
As wearable devices multiply and gather ever more data about our bodies, the batteries and wireless networks they rely on can become strained. To give wearables a longer battery life and to allow gigabytes of data to be transmitted at the same time, researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a new type of textile with embedded sensor networks that use very little electricity.
These days wearables typically use Bluetooth wireless connectivity to connect with users’ smartphones. This is very inefficient if you have small devices that are supposed to work for a long time. The new “metamaterial textiles” can gather signals from nearby sensors and transmit them over a conductive network woven throughout a piece of clothing. Very little energy is used to transfer data throughout the system and many sensors can be used at the same time.
From the study in Nature Electronics:
Here, we report energy-efficient and secure wireless body sensor networks that are interconnected through radio surface plasmons propagating on metamaterial textiles. The approach uses clothing made from conductive fabrics that can support surface-plasmon-like modes at radio communication frequencies. Our body sensor networks enhance transmission efficiencies by three orders of magnitude compared to conventional radiative networks without the metamaterial textile, and confine wireless communication to within 10 cm of the body. We also show that the approach can offer wireless power transfer that is robust to motion and textile-based wireless touch sensing.
Here’s a video from the University of Singapore showing off the new textiles:
The winners of the coveted Digital Health Awards have been revealed at the 2019 Summer Schools.
Jon Hoeksma, editor and CEO of Digital Health, announced the winners during a special networking and awards dinner held at the University of Leeds.
The awards, now in their second year, aim to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the leaders making the biggest contributions to UK healthcare IT.
The winners were revealed at the annual two-day Digital Health Summer Schools, which this year runs from 18-19 July, University of Leeds.
The winners of the Digital Health Awards 2019 are:
Digital Health Awards 2019 winners
• CIO of the Year (sponsored by Socitim): Mandy Griffin, CIO and Managing Director, The Health Informatics Service, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust
• CCIO of the Year (sponsored by CareWorks): Gareth Thomas, Group CCIO, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
• CNIO of the Year (sponsored by Nervecentre): Natasha Phillips, CNIO University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Future Digital Leader of the Year (sponsored by Equal Experts): Nicola Henderson, NHS Forth Valley
• Team of the Year (sponsored by WellSky): Informatics Department, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Outstanding contribution award sponsored by Sectra (sponsored by Sectra): Marianne Williams, Specialist Gastroenterology Community Dietitian, Somerset Partnership NHS FT
Speaking to Digital Health News at the awards, Future Digital Leader of the Year winner, Nicola Henderson from NHS Forth Valley in Scotland, said she was “absolutely amazed”.
She added: “This is not just about me, this is about everyone who is trying to transform the NHS through digital.”
Henderson also said that as a Scottish female, she felt the award was a “major recognition” for women and Scotland.
A number of the winners were peer-voted by the 3,500 NHS chief information officers, chief clinical information officers and other digital health leaders who make up the Networks panel.
This included the Outstanding contribution award, and this year’s winner, Marianne Williams, Specialist Gastroenterology Community Dietitian at Somerset Partnership NHS FT, who said she was “stunned” and “incredibly chuffed” to win.
While CIO of the Year, Mandy Griffin, from the Health Informatics Service at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said she was “gobsmacked” and “felt very privileged” to win.
Earlier in the day, delegates heard international keynotes from Nick Adkins, John Halamka and Margunn Aenestad.
The Shuri Network, which aims to support and encourage women of black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds in digital health roles, was launched.